Solon warns erring gov’t agencies of intense scrutiny

August 24, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 740 views

AGENCIES that failed to spend billions of pesos allotted to them by Congress should be prepared to face “intense scrutiny” when legislators tackle the record 5.024 trillion-peso proposed 2022 national budget that was officially transmitted to the House of Representatives on Monday by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

This according to Deputy Speaker and Manila Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr., who said that lawmakers were concerned about developments that revealed the inability of line departments to utilize billions of pesos intended for pandemic response.

“Ang dami-daming taong nangangailangan ng tulong, ang dami-daming bagay na kailangan tugunan, ang dami-daming programa na kailangan pondohan, tapos malalaman natin na may pondo ang gobyerno na ibinalik kasi hindi nagalaw; may mali dito,” Abante lamented.

“We expect government agencies to better manage public funds intended to help our frontliners, our drivers, and our jobless countrymen, and it is criminal that these departments had the means to help our kababayan, but failed to do so because of one excuse or the other,” said the exasperated Manila representative.

Recently, the Commission on Audit (CoA) flagged the Department of Health (DoH) for failing to spend 59.12 billion pesos, or more than a fourth of its 200.80 billion-peso budget.

The DBM, on the other hand, revealed last month that 6.49 billion pesos from Bayanihan 2 remained unused and were returned to the national treasury when the law expired on at the end of June.

Among the agencies with unobligated funds were the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

Abante pointed out that “ang ibig sabihin nito, mga frontliner, mga estudyante, mga mahihirap, at mga manggagawa na dapat nakinabang sa pondo ng Bayanihan 2 ay di natin natulungan.”

“Kahit ipasa namin sa Kongreso ang Bayanihan 3, 4, 5 or 6; at kahit five, six, or seven trillion pesos ang national budget… kung di naman gamitin ang pondo na ito ng ating mga ahensya, wala din itong saysay,” Abante said.

Abante stressed that agency heads should be ready to tell Congress how they plan to address the bottlenecks and issues that have hampered their ability to maximize the funds given to them.